What are the Different Kinds of Creams for Ringworm?

A. Pasbjerg

Treatment of ringworm, also known as tinea, requires the use of anti-fungal agents. The most common way to apply them is topically as part of a cream. There are a variety of creams for ringworm available over the counter that are very effective in killing the fungus, including clotrimazole, miconazole, and terbinafine. In some cases, if these creams are unable to get rid of an infection, a doctor may need to provide a more powerful prescription cream.

Both over-the-counter and prescription creams can be used to treat ringworm.
Both over-the-counter and prescription creams can be used to treat ringworm.

One of the common types of creams for ringworm is clotrimazole, which can easily be purchased without a prescription. Applying this cream to the fungus keeps it from creating certain cell membranes critical for the infection to grow. Some brands of clotrimazole cream may also contain betamethasone, a type of corticosteroid; this can help alleviate some of the inflammation and itching which may be symptoms of the infection. Treatment with clotrimazole will typically need to continue twice a day, from two to four weeks, to completely kill the ringworm.

A woman applying betamethasone cream.
A woman applying betamethasone cream.

Another of the creams for ringworm that is effective in killing the fungus is miconazole. Like clotrimazole, it works by inhibiting the production of the fungus's cell membranes. It is also readily available over the counter.

To completely kill the ringworm, treatment with clotrimazole will typically take from two to four weeks.
To completely kill the ringworm, treatment with clotrimazole will typically take from two to four weeks.

Terbinafine is a third type of non-prescription cream that can be used to treat ringworm. In addition to killing the fungus, this cream can provide some relief from the itching as well. Treatment with terbinafine may only require application once a day, though more severe infections could require it be applied twice.

Antifungal creams for ringworm typically contain clotrimazole, miconazole or terbinafine.
Antifungal creams for ringworm typically contain clotrimazole, miconazole or terbinafine.

Though the over-the-counter creams for ringworm are usually strong enough to kill the fungus, sometimes an infection is too severe or too widespread in the body for them to work, and prescription strength cream is needed. There are a variety of stronger anti-fungals a doctor may prescribe. Some common options include econazole and ketoconazole.

Over-the-counter antifungal creams can be purchased from a local pharmacy to treat ringworm.
Over-the-counter antifungal creams can be purchased from a local pharmacy to treat ringworm.

Econazole should be applied once or twice a day, and may need to be used anywhere from two to six weeks depending on the severity of the ringworm infection. Ketoconazole may also need to be used for several weeks to fully kill all fungi. These prescription creams should always be applied according to a doctor or pharmacist's directions. If any side effects arise, patients should notify their doctor immediately, as some of them can be severe and even dangerous.

Ringworm of the scalp may cause excessive flakiness.
Ringworm of the scalp may cause excessive flakiness.

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Discussion Comments

Lostnfound

Ringworm is pernicious, and you don't have to be dirty or something to get it. Any pet can carry ringworm.

Tinactin or the generic equivalent usually works just fine for most ringworm cases, but some are stubborn and require a doctor's examination to determine its severity.

If a ringworm outbreak lasts more than a couple of weeks, you probably need to go to the doctor and get a stronger, prescription anti-fungal cream. Since ringworm is a fungus, it won't usually just go away without treatment, and it also spreads. So you have to treat it. It’s not going to go away, otherwise.

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